The Mermaids Of Weeki Wachee

Since 1947, the mermaids of Weeki Wachee have called to carloads and busloads of curious travelers, beckoning the masses to experience mermaid magic for at least 23 minutes. The mermaid who introduced the show said that over the years such celebrities as Elvis and Don Knotts have followed the siren call. So.

I’ve wanted to go for at least 4 years, after reading about the mermaids on some phone screen somewhere. Or perhaps they came to me in a dream. Either way: dream fulfilled.

Watch Weeki Wachee Video

 

My mermaid and me.
Ta-Da! Ted’s a mermaid!
Wait. I’m a Manatee?
Also, here is an alligator
And some Flamingos.

The 5 Tenets Of Our Journey

Just to reiterate: we are NOT on vacation. This is living.

L I V I N

So, while riding our bikes (Rage and Rampage) on Key West, Ted and I identified and solidified the important milestones that we want to accomplish EACH DAY. These can be categorized into the following 5 tenets:

1) Read
*Books, articles etc. (Buzz Feed doesn’t count, yo.)

2) Exercise
*A daily average of at least 10,000 steps. 6 miles would be ideal. Ooof. This will be tough.

3) Learn
*Fun facts, theories, conspiracies, historical tidbits etc. The knowledge can be found anywhere (Except on Dumbphones). Examples: Museums, plaques, local history on menus, oral history from locals, cereal boxes etc.

4) Work
*At least 2 hours a day of writing in some form.

5) Fun
*It just depends you guys. But you know fun.

Ted work, me drive.

 

Key West, Day 2

Matt and I have a funny way of traveling—we don’t spend too much time in one place. We hammer through museums in about 45 minutes. Literally saw the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay in one afternoon. Why are we so quick, or maybe hasty?

Are we products of the MTV generation? My parents still don’t have cable, so that doesn’t explain it. (And I still have to pretend to have seen the Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” video.)

Are we so culturally curious that we can absorb it all and understand it in so short a window? Ha. Girl. I wish.

Or maybe our brains have limited capacity, say, about 45 minutes worth. That might be it. That might just be it.

Whatever the reason, we take in what we can and then hit the road.

Photos from today.

Actually, this one’s from two days ago. Us on South Beach. That’s Miami. We’re talking about Miami now.

 

There are literally 9 chickens up in this tree.

 

Iguanas are the raccoons of Key West—cool looking but pretty f’ing annoying overall. They were all over the place in Key West Cemetery.

 

All over the place.

 

Look at this bad boy.

 

I think you have to go to Ernest Hemingway’s house if you go to Key West. That’s my impression. People mention it first, and then something about “the street where all the bars are.” Totally. Duval Street. Both Duval Street and the Hemingway house are totally fine and acceptable.

 

Hemingway’s house does feature six-toed kitties descended from the Hemingway’s Snowball, the child of a kitty who lived on a US Navy ship. Apparently cats have been welcome on boats for a long time for the good company and predation they bring. Who knew? I didn’t.

 

This one looks like a smaller version of our lil’ guy Max.

 

A party at sunset is a tradition on Key West. Traditions sometimes come with more obligation than delight.

 

We’re Talking About Miami Now (deep Waiting For Guffman cut)

Well, hell. Miami is pretty cool: so specific in terms of vibe and architecture and culture.

After having touched the water of the Pacific Ocean on Christmas Day, it was a helluva thing to touch the water of the Atlantic today.

After getting jacked up on Cuban coffee, Joe’s Stone Crab did not disappoint.

Driving Julius in Miami rush hour was no problemo, and we squeezed (barely) into the tiny parking lot of our hotel on South Beach (not easy to stealth camp there). The next morning, I woke up early and in a semi-lucid anxiety-driven state went to the window to check on Julius—he was totally parked in.

Shit shit shit! 

Worry was the accompaniment to my OJ and Frosted Flakes.

How the hell are we going to get out of here?

In a nice gift from the gods, just as we walked outside to try and sort things out, we watched as the two cars who had boxed Julius in were driving off.

Road goal: Don’t let anxiety trick us into thinking that it gives us control over the unknown.

Road wisdom: Things will work out, even parking.

 

Cafe Cubano. Nitro.
As soon as we landed in Miami: Croquetas de Jamón y Frituras de Malanga at Islas Carnerias. Thank you to Tony Bourdain for the recommendation!
Sunset on South Beach.
Joe’s Stone Crab on South Beach. Touristy? Sure. Fun and delicious and Iconic? That too. We’d recommend getting the stone crab, but ALSO the mussels and the coconut shrimp. The Manhattans were sadly underwhelming.
Julius trying to blend in at the Wynwood Art District

Booking It To The Starting Line

The Malaga Hotel in Mobile, Alabama. This poor fountain ain’t use to this chill.

Day 5: 2,017 Miles. 4 National Parks.

And we haven’t even “started” yet. We are closing in on Siesta Key, Florida which we consider the beginning point of our journey: our circular and maybe circuitous route around North America. Our goal is to “follow the weather” avoiding as much cold as we can. Yeah, plans. We have to learn to kind of throw those out the window. It’s been around 20 degrees our whole journey, reaching the lowest of 8 degrees in Elk City, Oklahoma.

But once we get to Florida! Yeah, then our plans will become a reality. Or else we will just roll with whatever the hell comes our way.

Road wisdom: Roll with it. And bring a blanket.

Matt filling up the water reserves for Julius with the delicious hot springs water from Hot Springs, AR.
Damn, this was good. Frankes in Little Rock, AR hooked us up with the first of many chicken and dumpling lunches.
Just pure genius. Evan Endicott: we are on the search for more and will stash you some.

Super Wolf Moon

If we would have arrived 5 minutes later we would have missed it. The first full moon of the year (the Wolf Moon) just happened to be a Super Moon, and we just happened to be at the Grand Canyon to see it rise. Scared the crap out of us at first. We were still recovering from the emotional experience of seeing the canyon after a long drive from Joshua Tree. And then, a double take.  And then,

“Holy shit!” I exclaimed.

“No way,” Ted replied.

Yes way. We are gonna take it as a good omen for our trip. This was day one. Many more to come, and we are stoked.

A Year On

I wanted to tell you—wanted to warn you so that we don’t sneak up on you, which we might just do if you don’t know—that Matt and I are taking “a year on” to drive around the country.

We’ll be cruising around in our converted 2005 Dodge Sprinter called “Julius the Van.” Our beloved li’l kitties Max and TK are going to take sabbaticals of their own—staying with our friends Patsy and Danielle and Evan and Meg. We’ve rented the house, stored away all of the highly unnecessary crap we keep, and packed up a few essentials—clothes, books, the karaoke system. We’ve got our laptops, some notebooks, a guitar, seven or so writing projects, and a list of National Parks to see.

We’re not taking a vacation, and we’re not retiring early. We’re still going to be working—we’ll just be doing it from the road. Matt did have to close his therapy practice while we’ll be gone. But he’ll be writing from the road, so he’s still on the hook. I’ll be tutoring a couple of days a week (online! God bless the Internet.) and overseeing the business while leaving the day-to-day to the supremely competent Uma Incrocci and Martha Marion.

Where are we going? Well, we’re not totally sure. We’ll start from home, Los Angeles, and head to Florida to start. We’ll stay with my now-snowbird parents in Siesta Key, taking advantage of free lodging and good company. Then we’ll head to New Orleans for a month for Carnival season. How many parades can you see before you get tired of parades? We will find out. After that, we’ll spend some time in Texas—Houston, Austin, Marfa. El Paso? Elsewhere?

Then, before school gets out, we’ll visit the National Parks in the southwest. Why before school gets out? I believe that children are our future, and that future is June, July, and August. We’ll be long gone before then.

After that, some time in California where we’ve left a few stones unturned, like Death Valley and Lassen Volcanic Nat’l Park. Then the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, Canada, Minnesota for the 4th of July (North Dakota fireworks in hand), the North shore of Lake Superior, back into Canada to see Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, then drop down into Maine in mid-September.

After that, who knows?

The most interesting question, for me, is why. Why are we taking a year away? And why a year, for that matter? The short answer is that time is slipping away. Time, that precious resource, is in short supply, and we’ve been spending it faster than ever. The last seven years have felt about ten days long. We don’t have to do this, but we’re worried that if we don’t we’ll keep slipping into the future at this furious pace.

The other reason is that Matt and I have both always admired the people we know who take off on adventures—people like Skippy, who is, as far as Matt knows, still wbicycling around South America (he set out in the late 1990s).

Problem is we are both planners as well. Even as we’re adventuring, we like to have an itinerary. We welcome spontaneity, so long as it happens on schedule and leaves enough time to cook dinner.

So, we’re trying to bridge the gap between our adventuring spirit and extreme planning. We’re trying to become the people we want to be while embracing the people we are. Hippies with spreadsheets. Rebels without a debt.

One last goal: we want to see our beloved friends. If you’ve read this far, that’s you. How about a cup of tea? We’re in no great hurry, and we try to get our writing done in the morning, so we’ve got all afternoon. Let us know—we’ll add you to our very casual plan.

Lots of love.
Wish us luck.